Indie Comics Spotlight: Crimson Society, Orius Sent 2 Kill, Pirate Eye

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Crimson Society #1

Chances are the never-ending battle between vampires and werewolves won’t, well, end. For some reason, the two races despise each other and things are only further complicated when zombies are added into the equation. Typically, one race will seek the utter destruction of another and sometimes one race will have a secret weapon. Crimson Society #1 features such a weapon. The issue is written by Mike Hunau, with art by Carlos Trigo, colors by Andrea Celestini and letters by L. Jamal Walton.

In 2030, Jack Crimson is just a guy trying to get across town for an experiment. He also happens to be a werewolf, yet when he’s asked to ingest a red pill by a mysterious doctor, things get weird. Like red, nanotech arms weird that have a tendency to take over without his knowledge and kill vampires. Something like that won’t do much for the vampire/werewolf relations in the city.

The first issue moves along at an incredibly brisk pace. Hunau doesn’t really waste much time reminding the reader of the impending civil war; instead, he relies on the common knowledge that there is such a war brewing. The reasoning behind the vampires and werewolves hatred isn’t even really touched, but it’ll likely play a big part down the road. Zombies are in the mix as well, with a role that has yet to be defined. Jack’s reaction to his newfound talents is akin to that of Dr. Octopus. Hunau taps into that same sense of wonderment at the new strength as well as their inherent control over him. Jack must quickly learn how to control the arms, despite their programming to target vampires at all costs. The bulk of the first issue was spent establishing Jack as a possible reluctant hero with beastly powers and he seems to be a pivotal player in the vampire/werewolf war.

Trigo’s art is polished. He doesn’t do anything too crazy with the panel layout, but he more than makes up for it with his character models. Each character is illustrated in a way that makes them stand out. Jack is shorter, lean and has a hard jawline. The doctor Rendal is a towering hulk whose intelligence is predicated on violence. The zombies look a little comical while the vampires have a vicious ferocity to them. Celestini splashes the whole book with tons of red, highlighting both Jack’s arms and the vampire’s thirst for blood.

Crimson Society #1 is pretty light on plot. Jack is a werewolf and has been programmed to seek out vampires with even more of a vengeance. He has to contend with both the werewolf side and the programming, both of which will not always be working in concert. Jack wants to know what he’s done and what he will do and if the splash at the end of the issue is any indication, he may be in for a lot more fighting.

Crimson Society #1 is available now.

Orius: Sent 2 Kill #1

Female assassins can handle themselves in just about any situation. Typically, they’re not created by an alien race with the intent of being leveraged to settle a new planet. That’s just the scenario in Orius: Sent 2 Kill #1 from Sea Lion Books. The first issue is written by Brian Buccellato and David Wohl, with pencils by Pat Lee, inks by Craig Yeung, colors by Genzo, Siyanimation and Pee and letters by PLP.

Orius is a planet that’s been bred from war and peace. The two species on the planet previously lived in harmony as the Grey, but there was mistrust between them and the ensuing civil war prompted them to split into the Black and White. Each would have their own part of the planet for living and it wasn’t until the planet neared extinction that the two races joined forces again. The fruits of that partnership are Nxy and Zia, two extremely effective female fighters created and bred for battle. Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, Sara is an assistant to Mr. Grogan, one of the most powerful men in the world. She’s minder her business just like any other day, until she gets a mysterious call to visit a castle, a call that throws her right in the path of another woman named Nancy. The two find themselves in a dead end surrounded by new “friends,” all of whom are encouraging their hasty retreat.

Buccellato and Wohl have taken a rather simplistic plot point in a race struggling to survive and throwing in female assassins, aliens and invasions. The twist lies in Nxy and Zia, the two oddly named assassins who are showing a desire to buck their programming. Their role in the grand scheme of things remains to be seen, but it’s likely they have more in common with Sara and Nancy than just being women. The premise is that the Grey need embeds on Earth and these two are likely it. There’s really no villain as of yet, so finding a true enemy should be an intriguing story.

Lee’s pencils are articulate, showcasing a range of action. No panel is wasted, as every character is shown doing something meaningful with little filler panels. Characters are illustrated with good detail as well, showcasing a good mix of actions throughout. The fact that Yeung’s inks appear washed out and grey really helps too, giving the reader something to visually hold on to and allow for further immersion in the tale.

Orius: Sent 2 Kill #1 is off to an interesting start, despite the somewhat simplistic plot to start. Hopefully, some of the politics of the Grey are explored and Mr. Grogan is given more page-time to evidence why he is who he is. Nxy and Zia are the most fascinating parts of the story so far. If they go completely rogue and ignore their programming, things could get a lot crazier and more dangerous for everyone.

Orius: Sent 2 Kill #1 should be available soon.

Pirate Eye: A Pirate’s Life is Not for Me

A pirate’s life is typically not easy, especially when you’re an observant pirate who tends to say more than he should. Actions that are often seen as a portent of mutiny and an ability that affords at least the possibility of a life after piracy: being a private eye. Everyone’s favorite “pirate eye” returns in Pirate Eye: A Pirate’s Life is Not for Me from Action Lab Comics. The issue brings back the same team in writer Joe Grahn and artist Carl Yonder.

Smitty is back in the thick of things. Literally, back in the thick of piracy, as he’s tapped for a case that calls upon his tumultuous past as a pirate. It’s that past that got him where he is in the present, but he’s still viewed as the best chance at recovering a valuable treasure map stolen by a defector. Since he’s a detective and a pirate, that of course means things aren’t quite as straightforward as they appear.

Grahn keeps the same tone and feel from the first book, Pirate Eye: Mark of the Black Widow. Smitty gets a little less time to show off his investigative skills in the second one-shot; instead, relying on his wit and ability to escape trouble. For a one-shot, there’s a rather intricate plot woven together that boasts a whole lot of fighting, a whole lot of mistrust and even more shadiness on everyone’s part. The idea is that Smitty is fighting both for his life in a sense, as well as some revenge on his former crewmates. The dialogue stays sufficiently in the era, ensuring the reader isn’t taken out of the time. Smitty seems ahead of his time in a way, but he’s still a pirate at heart, despite his intelligence and observation skills. The issue mixes in his past with present very fluidly, affording a fuller picture of him as a character. He really is an interesting lead and making a pirate a private detective is a fascinating combination.

Yonder’s art continues the gritty and dark tone. The bulk of the issue takes place asea and on a pirate ship, both environments that Yonder presents very effectively and realistically. Smitty’s persona is weathered; he’s clearly been through a lot as a pirate and is parlaying that experience into his new career as a private detective. The characters wear their emotions really well, with some scared, some brutish and others reluctant.

Smitty is an interesting character. A former pirate turned detective is still a new and fresh concept and Smitty proves that both professions have their perks and drawbacks. While the first issue showcased more of his private investigator side, Pirate Eye: A Pirate’s Life is Not for Me shows more of his pirate side. The marriage of the two works out well and leads to some very interesting situations.

Pirate Eye: A Pirate’s Life is Not for Me is available for pre-order with Diamond Order Code FEB130670.


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